What kind of behavior is acceptable at a workplace and what isn’t? Read on to find out.
Did you know that the rules of office etiquette that your employees follow define your company culture to a great extent? Simply put, your company culture refers to the shared values and beliefs that form the characteristic features of your organization. Whether it Is the Silicon Valley startup culture that you want to emulate or the traditional corporate culture that you want to draw from, know that it can affect your business success.
True that the rules of office etiquette may not be as clearly defined as they were a couple of decades ago, but professional behavior is still an important aspect of securing employment. With etiquette breaches happening more and more thanks to advancements in technology, the importance of promoting good etiquette among your employees has become paramount. Here are some rules of office etiquette that you would want to promote at your business.
Be on time: Nobody likes Late Kate. Nor is tardiness tolerated at work. Arrive a few minutes early, especially if it is a meeting you are convening. This also applies to email emails—respond to your business communications promptly and encourage your employees to do the same.
Greet fellow workers: This doesn’t mean that you should go around wishing everybody in your bay a ‘Good Morning’ every single day. Greet those who you come in contact with. It needn’t always be verbal either—a smile and nod would suffice. Not only is it polite to acknowledge the presence of another human being but also helps in building rapport among employees who work together. Bonus points if you can remember everyone’s names.
Be polite and respectful: Once upon a time we were all taught to say ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’. All the good manners you learn as a child should reflect in you even as an adult, more so in the setting of an office. They weren’t meant to go obsolete with age. Pay attention to what your colleagues say, maintain eye-contact, be mindful of how loudly you talk whether you are in your office or in a common work area.
Interact. Be social: The watercooler chat is real. Encourage your employees to pull out their headphones and interact with fellow workers unless they want to be labelled as the ‘loner’. Sociable people are better liked and being liked is an integral part of getting ahead career-wise.
While it is important to get your employees to be more sociable, you should also make it clear that the office is no place for gossips. Curb blame games and stop nasty office politics from taking root in your office.
Dress appropriately: Most companies have their own understanding regarding what qualifies as ‘business casual’ and what doesn’t. While you may have got away with a pair of chinos and a Polo shirt at your previous company, your new one may insist that you wear long-sleeved, button-down shirts. Employees must make it a point to check with the HR or management regarding what is considered appropriate for your company. Also, go easy on head-turning perfume/cologne.
Mind company assets: Assets don’t always mean employee laptops, chairs, tables, office supplies and vice versa. It also includes confidential information such as company secrets and trademarks. Employees should remember not to use office supplies (yes, including the copy machine) for personal use. While we are on the subject, lets also go over how you shouldn’t help yourselves to your co-workers supplies either. No matter how awesome their lunch smells, do not take it without asking them first.
Keep your phone away: It is not just the Millennials who have got their noses buried in their smartphones. The older generations are also privy to it. Put your phone on silent mode so that the ringing doesn’t disturb others. Unless your company has banned the use of mobile phone at work, you may check your phone to reply to important messages or check calls that you may have missed. Don’t take our word for it though—use your best judgement while using your mobile phone at work.
Never discuss salary details with co-workers: Some companies actually put this down in writing in their contracts. Contract violation can even lead to termination. Discussing salary can lead to unhealthy rivalry, jealousy and discontent, leading to a slump in productivity. So, consider it in depth before adding it as a clause in your company’s job contracts.
Keep your work station tidy: A tidy table is a symbol of professionalism. It shows that you are organized and only an organized person can get their job done efficiently. Also, de-cluttering helps to de-stress.
Never reciprocate bad behavior: Consider this scenario. Your co-worker loses their temper and yells at you. What do you do? Under no circumstances should you yell back. They might be having a bad day or there could be some underlying reason that you are not aware of. Talk to them afterwards and remind them how companies don’t tolerate bad behavior. If it continues despite your cautionary advice, you could always bring in the big guns (Human Resources) or take it up yourself if you are the boss.
It is good to have certain rules laid out in writing so that your company culture doesn’t remind your employees of a frat house, which is what lead to the collapse of the Silicon Valley unicorn startup Zenefits. Embrace the good parts of startup culture, steer clear of the bad. Focus on promoting a healthy office environment so that your employees look forward to working with your company.